If you have decided to outsource your network monitoring, you have weighed the pros and cons, and the pros came out on top. You have concluded that outsourcing will let you focus on your company’s core business and avoid spending your valuable time troubleshooting, monitoring, and maintaining the network that is its foundation.
Now all you have to do is find a customized network monitoring service that best fits your network—covering its legacy applications, eclectic infrastructure, and all the unique ways you run your business. So where do you go from here? Let’s look at 7 criteria you can apply immediately in choosing the right network monitoring partner.
Criterion #1: The capability to monitor your complex systems
In addition to doing what is normally expected in monitoring your network, look for a partner who can do the truly difficult things. Effective monitoring may require custom scripts, multiple protocols, and the ability to monitor devices and applications at a very granular level.
Ask your prospective partner how they would monitor both your older equipment and applications, along with your latest and greatest. Heterogeneous networks require flexible and scalable capabilities.
Criterion #2: Ability to create, monitor, and handle synthetic transactions
Synthetic transactions are scripts that test the availability of your systems and validate their operation. A synthetic transaction not only checks that your system is available, but also mimics an actual user to prove operability.
Ask the provider whether they can create synthetic transactions, which typically fall outside the normal scope of monitoring software—something that is unique to your processes and business procedures. If they can do that, they can go beyond basic monitoring and solve the most complex monitoring challenges facing your business.
Criterion #3: Flexibility in how they alert customers
Ask the provider if their system can send out customized alerts (email, SMS, telephone calls, etc.), dependent upon the priorities you define, and the severity of the problem.
The key point here is that customized network monitoring has to include a flexible, customizable alert system. That flexibility could involve different modes of problem notification depending on when the problem occurs—an email or SMS from 9 to 5, with phone calls after hours, for example.
Criterion #4: Flexibility in when they alert
The provider should be able to apply a class of service to suit your needs, for example specifying maintenance windows when alerts should not be generated, and also be granular enough to differentiate between devices and applications. The provider should offer the flexibility to customize notification delays when an alert does not involve mission-critical processes or require immediate attention.
Ask the provider what capabilities they have to reduce false positive, nuisance alerts.
Criterion #5: Attention to continuous improvement
Your provider should adapt their monitoring to fit your business needs, rather than forcing you to adapt to fit their monitoring capabilities.
As a provider works with you and gets to know your systems, they may identify recurring problems in your network. Troubleshooting and fixing those problems, in collaboration with you, are the basis for continuous improvement. Those improvements can range from early detection, to postmortem analysis following a system outage, to intervene early and prevent recurrence.
Ask yourself if you feel the provider is invested not only in continuously improving the service you receive, but also in how you can improve your operations.
Criterion #6: Location, location, location: U.S. based operations
Location is important. Many organizations must have a U.S.-based NOC due to statutory or contractual requirements. Also consider the potential communication difficulties, language barriers, service lag times, etc., from hiring off-shore service providers.
Look for a provider who is U.S.-based, and is compliant with U.S. laws, security, and business continuity requirements.
Criterion #7: Tier-1 remediation
Tier-1 remediation is another term for bringing your system back to normal in the event of an unplanned outage. To do that, you need an outsourced network operations center that goes many steps beyond just monitoring your network.
Simply stated, Tier-1 remediation requires the ability to troubleshoot and fix outages and impairments, following processes co-developed by you and your NOC partner.
Speaking of the above…
If you are looking for a network monitoring partner who meets these seven criteria, contact us. We’d love to be an extension of your team and put you on the road to peace of mind.